Hi everyone, it’s Medicine Mondays and maybe you’ve recently seen this post going around Facebook about a website having very detailed information about your life called “truepeoplesearch.com”. There may even be detailed directions as how to get your information off of there. Maybe some of you think it’s a scam. Well, I am here to talk about “What is truepeoplesearch.com?”
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Wait a second… isn’t this Medicine Mondays?
You caught me, it IS Medicine Mondays. However, while this may seem like it’s not medically relevant, I assure you that it is.
For many, if not all physicians, privacy is a concern.
Ok, so what is truepeoplesearch.com?
Basically, it’s an enormous webcrawling database (aggregator). It scours the internet for any and all public domain data that is available associated with your name, date of birth, location and other identifying information. So if you go to their website and type in your name it will present a bunch of results.
This kind of thing isn’t new at all. There are plenty of other sites that provide the same information and have been around for the last 10 years or so. The difference is that those websites usually only show a little bit of the data and then hide the rest behind a pay wall.
You type in John Smith and it spits out a bunch of results. The one you’re looking for John Smith who is 42 years old so you click on that result. It then tells you to pay a certain amount of money for access to the remainder of the information.
This is where truepeoplesearch.com is different.
Instead of hiding behind a pay wall, it just gives you all the information it has. The amount of information that is available may be surprising to some. For example, a recent home address or recent home phone number may be available. However, a lot of incorrect information is probably also there.
Like I said, it’s just an enormous database trying to make best guesses based on a ton of data.
Oh wow, that’s kind of scary.
I agree, it IS kind of scary.
However, this information was always around. Things like your phone number and address are public domain and can be found, if someone were to search hard enough.
Ok, maybe the knowledge that your information was always readily available on the internet somewhere is also kind of scary as well.
What’s the difference?
The difference is the ease in which people have access to this information, which could potentially be accurate.
Well, whatever, I can just delete myself from the database right?
You sure can.
In fact, they probably want you to.
Remember, this is a huge database just sifting through information. Some of it is accurate, some of it is not.
By having your name removed from the database you are essentially telling them that at least some of your information is accurate. This is new information. You’ve just kind of confirmed to them that their information is accurate.
First of all, it’s like 10 million words long. But here is something I think is significant in the choice and opt out section.
“Please note, we have no control over public records, and do not guarantee or warrant that a request for removal of or change to personal information as described above will result in removal of or change to all of your information from the Site. Further, we are not responsible for informing third parties (including without limitation our third party service providers or strategic partners) with whom we have already shared your personal information of any changes requested pursuant to this section, or for removing information from or causing information to be removed from the databases or records of such entities.” (emphasis mine)
What does all this mean? They can and will be selling your information to 3rd parties. When you opt out, you’ve just given them valuable information. You’ve confirmed that the information on whichever person you want removed is accurate enough to want to be removed. This is a second tier of “better information” which is almost certainly being sold.
Ok, so what do I do?
Well, there isn’t much you can do to be honest. Like I said, this information is all public domain and available somewhere.
In fact, you can go ahead and check FamilyTreeNow.com, which is another site which probably has exactly the same information. (It’s older than truepeoplesearch.com even)
Even if you were to opt out of both sites, the information is still out there. Most likely a new website will pop up next month or in the next few months with your information.
Is there anything I can do to protect my privacy?
Honestly, not really.
But let me ask you this. If this whole “truepeoplesearch.com” thing didn’t go viral on Facebook, would you have even known or cared?
These kinds of things feed on your fear of the invasion of privacy.
However, even before the digital age, this information was available. If you rented an apartment, bought a house, had cable tv, or owned a land line, the information was available somewhere.
With the digital age, all the information became available online. And now, with the computing power available and these aggregator sites, it has just made it that much easier to get at least some information
I dunno Sensei… I still want it gone.
Hey, I get it.
If you still want to “remove yourself” from their database, then there is one more thing to know. The website will log your Internet Protocol (IP) Address. In general, this isn’t a huge deal because it’s needed in order to send your computer information from the various websites.
However, by opting out, you are giving the website a chance to compare your IP address location to the address they have available.
if John Smith has a home address listed in Los Angeles, CA and then opts out from his home PC in Los Angeles, then it would compare the IP to the one they have listed. This would help confirm that the address they have listed is likely his current address.
So if you want to take a few extra steps (which may or may not help), then consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) while doing removal.
Consider it like buffer between you and the website you’re connecting to.
if John Smith has a home address listed in Los Angeles, CA and then opts out from his home PC in Los Angeles, however, he has a VPN which is in New York. It would compare the IP (in New York) to the one they have listed. This may trick them into thinking that Los Angeles is no longer his current address, and he may be living in New York now.
Is this worth doing? I don’t know. I’m just putting it out there. Like I said, the information is still out there anyways.
What VPN should I use?
In general, the usage of VPNs is a long post for a whole other day.
However, if you were just planning to use a VPN just for removal from the above websites, then using a “limited, but free” option is probably ok.
I don’t have much experience with free VPNs, but one of the best-rated virus scanners (Avira) comes with VPN. I believe it gives you 500mb of traffic a month through their VPN for free, which should be plenty for just removing yourself from those two websites.
Scary stuff, so much information is available online…
However, remember that there is no substitute for common sense.
Be safe. Lock your doors. Don’t take candy from strangers.
All that stuff your mom taught you still rings true… just in the real world and the internet nowadays.
Truepeoplesearch.com is an online data aggregator with huge databases of information.
It may be surprising how much information is available, and how easy the access is.
However, this is not new. Most, if not all information presented is public domain.
These sites feed on your fear and opting out may inadvertently confirm your information to be true… which will then likely be sold.
If you do decide to opt out, realize that a new one may pop up next month or even tomorrow.
Consider using a VPN when you opt out.
There is no substitute for common sense.
Agree? Disagree? Questions, Comments and Suggestions are welcome.
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